When I start thinking about annoying trends in customer service I first want to say, “Man, don’t get me started.” Examples of this are everywhere. Anyone who has customers or clients should be watching for the following:

  • Eye contact. It has become absolutely endemic that people in customer facing jobs speak to customers or clients without looking at them. There is actually a very nice, somewhat high-end grocery store in my neighborhood here in Atlanta. It is an absolutely lovely store. They play classical music all day long. You walk in to the strains of Vivaldi and can sift through all sorts of lovely cheese and wine in a physically beautiful store. The people who work there seem to have gone to the “customer no service” school. They do not look at you when addressing you – really? You don’t even know if they are addressing you or someone else. This is ineffective, rude and just plain stupid.
  • Hiding your contact information. Put your name, phone number and other pertinent information in your email stamp. Why do you want people to have to scrounge for the information so they can call you? Make it easy for customer and prospects to find you, or information about you.
  • Asking the customer to move so they can “take you over here.”  At Bloomingdale’s about a month ago and I asked a question of someone who was standing behind a register and he literally turned his back on me and shouted over his shoulder “I’ll take it over here.” I didn’t move and when he had the information I was looking for, he shouted back over his shoulder. I said, “No thank you.”
  • No acknowledgment or insincere acknowledgment. We have all had the experience where we walk into a bank, retail store or a restaurant to see people who work there talking to each other but not interrupting their conversation to assist you. On the flip side of this is another annoying trend that appears opposite but is actually the same lack of respect, but in a different costume. Insincere acknowledgment. It might be chirpy, condescending, infantilizing, or sarcastic but it has the same impact – it’s irritating because it shows a lack of respect.
  • Informality. I’m not your guy. My husband and I are not your guys. Grow up or at least have the good sense to know that customers deserve to be treated with professional intent – we aren’t your buds, man.
  • Chirpiness. I know, I’ve already used the word but it bears repeating. This sing-song voice that is expected of a 4 year old but very distracting in an adult and denotes insincerity. It is often accompanied by the annoying intonation that makes every sentence sound like a question.

These things are all observable behaviors that predict results. Pay attention to them and you’ll see outsized results. Don’t pay attention and you’ll be struggling but may not know why.